Congress must address America’s dependency on Chinese technology in defense bill

While China recently closed the military capability gap, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced legislative language that would spoil the Chinese Communist Party’s predatory military plans in one fell swoop.

Building on the important work of former President Donald Trump, who imposed 25% tariffs on Chinese-made microchips, the senator
the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would restrict the United States from purchasing microchips from companies working with the CCP.

Microchips are what make much of America’s modern war equipment hum. However, the US remains dependent on China for its supplies. That’s a problem when companies with ties to the CCP make them and sell them to contractors and suppliers working with the federal government. And it’s especially a problem when most of China’s strategy for defeating the US military relies on these chips.

According to a new report released in October by the Special Competitive Studies Project, China is trying to use advanced technologies to deploy military force “with the goal of eroding or even leapfrogging the military strengths of the United States.”

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China wants to become the “first movers” in “intelligent warfare” – wars that use emerging technologies such as AI, 5G networks and quantum computers to beat military rivals – to replace the United States as the world’s leading superpower. And it is developed and
Made in China 2025 road map
to become a global leader in artificial intelligence (AI), 5G wireless, quantum computing and other related industries a reality in dangerously short order.

Guess what technology is needed to operationalize this intelligent warfare technology? You guessed it: microchips. So why would Congress allow the federal government to buy those who have ties to the same CCP and try to use them to destroy America and its interests? That doesn’t sound safe – not by a long shot. It raises many issues, including but not limited to the prospect of future supply chain problems and backdoors that could lead to cyber attacks and espionage.

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While both sides of the aisle agree on the need to reduce dependence on these Chinese-made chips, they disagree on the best approach.

Some opposed the CHIPS Act, which aimed to reduce dependence on this foreign technology by boosting US production, because they found its $250 billion price tag too expensive and too favorable to big, rich companies. Sen. Cornyn’s NDAA proposal eliminates all of those concerns. It doesn’t spend a ton of money that we don’t have; it doesn’t even ban all microchips—it just goes to the root of the problem by stopping the microchips built by companies with known CCP connections in the way of the federal government.

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After hearing the scathing speeches and proclamations that came out of the CCP’s 20th Party Congress last month, including the party’s plans to prioritize technology and innovation. for strategic purposes, all legislators should agree that protecting America from potential Chinese technology threats should be a top national priority. Passing the Coryn amendment to the NDAA would be a great place to start.

Here’s hoping the rational heads prevail. Our national security depends on it.


Jon Schweppe is the director of policy and government affairs for the American Principles Project. Follow him on Twitter @JonSchweppe.


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